In discussing the lessons to be learned in the throes of a process (as opposed to the quick-fix solution to a problem), it occurred to me WHY I was more than willing, as a child, to endure the rigors of a multiple-day car trip from Massachusetts to Colorado in the heat of summer. The motivation was the prize at the end of the journey: time spent playing along the mountain stream near the cabin where we stayed, the chance to ride horses up the mountainside, the fresh smell of pine and fir in the crisp morning air, the sounds of wind and water as I lay in bed at night, the afternoon rain showers, and, best of all, time spent playing cards with my grandmother.
Years later, in our microwave world, I realize I have lost some of my ability to savor the process for the sake of the goal — yet persevering through the process is a skill that is vital for our spiritual growth and development. The prize is definitely worth it! Paul encourages us in Hebrews 12: 1-2: “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God..” When we face earthly challenges that require perseverance, it is all too easy to complain about the rocky path, how steep it is, how slippery, or how difficult or long the race proves to be. Before we know it, we are focusing our eyes downward on our difficulties. However, if we determine to look up and fix our eyes on the goal — Jesus Himself! — we will have what it takes to run the race and endure the process, regardless of how hazardous the path might seem. The promise of His presence is both the goal of the race and the experience of it, as He never leaves us alone on the track!